Part one is here.
AA: Hi, Theresa! Continuing out chat, you have an established following with your Sons of Midnight series and other books. What are some things that will appeal to them in The Slayer?
TM: Well, first off the vampire element! LOL. My Sons of Midnight series focuses in on vampires in contemporary times, so to have a main character as a vampire in Victorian times would interest them, but above all, it would likely be the strong relationship in the story. My Sons of Midnight series is paranormal romance, straight and simple, whereas I get to add more of a fantasy and sci-fi element to my steampunk. I think Winchester and the Lady Drossenburg’s relationship will likely be a key ingredient for them.
AA: There are a lot of creative things going on in the story – guns, gadgets, locations and more – where did the inspirations come from for all of that?
TM: Most of it comes from asking, what if, then what next? I’m constantly sifting through ideas in my head and jotting down notes. Then I’ll go and do some research and a whole crop of additional ideas will spring up to be harvested. More than anything, I try to tread that careful balance between entertainment and well-told story.
AA: What kind of early attention has the series generated?
TM: I’m very excited that The Hunter has already garnered some fantastic reviews in some large publications including a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, a 4.5 star Top Pick! rating from RT Bookreviews Magazine and a great review in Booklist Magazine. The Slayer received a 4.5 stars from RT Bookreviews Magazine as well. My favorite so far has been Publisher’s Weekly. “Meyers’s steampunk western packs a sizzling demonic romance into a fast paced quest through tiny frontier towns…Meyers piles on the gee-whiz moments and eye-ball kicks—including a steam-powered freeze machine, electric stun guns powered by Tesla coils, and a clockwork horse—in a well-crafted, eminently enjoyable story that will leave readers wanting more time with the Jackson brothers.” While I’m thrilled I’m reading eye-ball kicks and I’m thinking, wait, I did that?
AA: In talking with authors the last few years, each has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What was your publishing experience like?
TM: Long! LOL. Actually I started writing on my first novel when I was 17 and got my first nationally published magazine article that same year. I got my first New York agent in 1996 and we worked for eight years without success. I was writing historical romance at the time and the market for it had just begun the down-hill slide. I got selected as one of eleven writers for the American Title II contest (which is like the American Idol of books). I made it through round three before getting kicked off the island. Eventually I sold a historical romance to a small publisher that went bankrupt three weeks before my book was supposed to hit store shelves. I sought out a new agent and started writing paranormal fiction. I sold to Harlequin in 2008, Kensington in 2010 and since then have had seven books published. This business is all about persistence.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?
TM: Agents and editors are there to help you find the best market for your work, but these days, they really do expect you to come forward with something that’s as good or better than what you are reading on the shelf at this moment. If your book isn’t at that level yet, work on your craft some more. Understand point of view, how to layer and texture a novel, how to create motivation and conflict within your characters, the fundamentals of backstory, foreshadowing and all the other things that are hidden within the weft and weave of a story. Your editor and agent are not there to fix those craft issues for you. You need to have that down first so they can sell your book in the market. If you hear something from three different critiques of your story that’s consistently an issue, then it is likely you have a problem you need to fix. Above all, write the damn book and move on. You don’t need to spend year after year on the same scene or partial manuscript. Finishing a book, then writing another, then another, is the best education you can give yourself on how to improve as a writer.
AA: To be a writer, one has to write. If nothing else, it’s good practice. If you weren’t an author what else would you be doing now?
TM: Oh, you mean if I could shut out the voices of character that burble in the back of my head or the story ideas that randomly pop out of nowhere? I’ve had a career in public relations. I’ve been a journalist and a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t know that I’ll ever not write. It’s how I process everything that’s in my head, but if I had to pick something else, I might be a interior decorator or an attorney.
AA: You’ve mentioned that you enjoy going to the spa, getting a facial, massage, pedicure and hair cut. Certainly, getting the spa treatment once in awhile is great but when you can’t do that, what do you do to keep a balance between writing, working, and the rest of your life?
TM: LOL. Since I get to do all that maybe once a year, I find balance in lots of other ways. The biggest one is primarily my non-writing mommy friends. We try to have tea together once a week and just have fun together. I love gardening and growing my own herbs, fruits and veggies, so that keeps me connected to the earth, quite literally. And there is nothing like children to keep you very humble and real, especially when you are acting as the taxi early in the am to practice or helping in the classroom, where you are not a writer, you’re just a mom.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
TM: I have a plotting group of writers I work with to brainstorm and a critique partner who I trade manuscripts with. Both are very different roles and I find it’s incredibly helpful to have them. They really help you jiggle loose ideas when you are stuck and times and my critique partner and I practically share a brain, so that helps when mine is getting tired! I’ve also found that groups like my local chapters of Romance Writers of America are invaluable in really understanding this industry and keeping up with all the changes that are happening right now in publishing. Joining them was the best thing I ever did for my career.
AA: Who are some authors, and other people, who have been influential in your writing? In what ways have they had an impact?
TM: I love to read, so there are many authors that have inspired me to be a better writer, but I wouldn’t say that any of them have actually influenced my writing. I still write the way I write. I know how to pick apart a good story and say, “OK, how did they do this or that?” For instance if I see a particularly gripping action scene, or a masterful introduction of scientific fact I look at the mechanics of it and study from there.
AA: You are a member of the Romance Writers of America. How has that contributed to your writing, promotions work, and your experiences with ‘the art of the deal?”
TM: Honestly, out of all the writing groups I’ve been involved with over the years, Romance Writers of America has been the most helpful in terms of not only understanding our ever-changing industry, but also in reaching out to teach the basics of good story-telling in the forms of workshops and articles as well as chapter support and regional conferences. Unlike many of the large writing organizations, you don’t have to be published yet to join them and so they are wonderful about offering a hand up to the next generation of writers, teaching them how to conduct themselves and write as professionals.
AA: What would be some of your reasons for new and established authors to join and participate in similar writers groups? What are the benefits of those professional groups?
TM: The biggest benefit is to not waste your time reinventing the wheel. Truly, there are people who’ve done just about everything you can think of as a mistake, and they are willing to share that information with you so you can cut down your own learning curve as a writer by decades! Especially with the increased interest in self-publishing, it’s so very tempting for a new writer to throw their work out into the world before they’ve learned their craft and understand how good editing can make all the difference in a piece of fiction.
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